Tech companies are increasingly reliant on mica to make products from televisions to mobile phones, yet the electronics industry is largely unaware of the origins of a mineral mined globally by children in dangerous conditions, campaigners said yesterday. The sector is the main global buyer of mica and uses far more of the prized mineral than was previously thought, yet many companies have little knowledge about its sourcing and use in their supply chains, said rights group Terre des Hommes (TdH).
"The possibility of child labour in electronic products and in cars is very high," Aysel Sabahoğlu, a senior technical advisor at TdH, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation. In August 2016, a Thomson Reuters Foundation investigation found several children in India had died in the depths of illegal mica mines - but that their deaths were covered up.
The discovery that seven children had died in two months alone prompted pledges by multinationals sourcing mica from India to clean up their supply chains, and state authorities vowed to accelerate plans to legalise and regulate the sector. While companies in industries from cosmetics to construction source mica from India, they also import the mineral from nations such as Brazil, China, Pakistan, Peru, Sri Lanka and Sudan where children are believed to work in mines, TdH said.